May 25, 1998

5/25/98 Blackburn Trail Center

17.3 miles (986.1 total)

Lots of rain and thunder but luckily no hail last night. The first part of the trail was real muddy - fell once. And because of the rain, the humidity was high. The guidebook describes the next 18 miles as "a roller-coaster" with 17 small ascents totaling about 5000 feet.

Just a walk in the woods

As the day got hotter, those ascents became a lot more difficult. Climbing up towards Crescent Rock, I almost passed out because of the heat. Took a short break there with Messenger who said the forecast was for afternoon thundershowers. Lucky for me, after a few short climbs the clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped. The worst thing about the trail all day was how rocky (small boulders) it was. Before we’d have to cross short rocky sections, now we occasionally crossed short non-rocky sections. The secret was to boulder hop in order not to sprain your ankle.

Yes, the trail goes over all those rocks

Caught up to Messenger (who passed me as I was getting water) about a mile before the Blackburn AT Center. The ridge had been pretty level but still had too many rocks. We made good time considering the storm threat. On the way down to the hostel, we passed several day hikers. Once at the Center, we were a little unsure what to do because the caretaker was gone. The day hikers came down and started asking us questions about the AT and our thru-hike. Before you know it, they were taking us into town to buy beer and ice cream.

More mountain laurel lining the trail

After stopping at the store, Kevin said he needed to stop by his parents. Who were we to argue. Kevin’s parents arrived just after us and after an afternoon ride on the motorcycle. Sandi described herself as a gypsy-hippie. And Larry was a carpenter, just like his son, Kevin. They worked locally but also did work for an architect that built one-of-a-kind homes all over the country, called Jersey Devil Architecture.

After we’d been there awhile talking, Sandi insisted we stay for dinner. "I hope you don’t mind no meat because I’m a vegetarian", she said. To that, both Messenger and I replied "Us too!". We all sat out in the back yard eating an incredible beans-rice-burrito dinner with fresh greens and tomatoes.

By time we got back to the hostel, it was almost 10pm. Besides most of the people from last night’s shelter, we caught up to Toolman and Samson. Said hello to the caretaker, had one more beer and finally went to bed.